Robert Santoli started off crushing the other players in the first round when he correctly guessed the phrase with just one letter. Host Pat Sajak grew noticeably weary throughout the game and Santoli’s poor opponents were assumedly peeved as the game show star then proceeded to win every puzzle except one and walked away with $76,000.
The 23-year-old admitted his success stemmed from being a game show enthusiast, having grown up watching “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!”. Santoli tried out for the game show at 19 years old, but didn’t make the cut. Yet in the interim years, Santoli perfected his skills by filling out the show’s daily Twitter puzzle.
The “Wheel of Fortune” super fan revealed in an interview with a local news site that he obliterated the competition by thoroughly prepping before the show’s taping.
“The instant I got my theme, I immediately came up with an ever-growing list of puzzles themed towards cruises, sailing, fish, boats—anything on or in the water,” Santoli said. “The show does sometimes repeat puzzles, especially themed ones. ‘Port & Starboard’ had been used at least twice before my show, both times as a Toss-Up puzzle.”
When the category, “Places,” appeared on the board, Santoli knew his hard work studying paid off.
After the game show whiz breezed through the first puzzle, he knew it was over for the other competitors. “
“As soon as I solved the Round 1 puzzle for some cash and a $6,009 cruise, I knew they had a lot of catching up to do, so I told them, ‘I’m sorry,’” Santoli said. “They were very nice, both before and after the show. Before they walked off the set after the final round, I told them: ‘No hard feelings.’”
Yet despite his sincere sympathy toward his fellow opponents, Santoli couldn’t contain his excitement as he adorably cheered himself on.
“I know I look like a bit of a dork on the show with my high-pitched ‘Yeahs!’ and my childish jumping up and down after winning the Bonus Round, but I was really, to quote the Round 4 puzzle, ‘Living in the Moment.’”
Read more: 5 Most Cringe Worthy Game Show Fails
Banner image credit: YouTube screenshot